From a performance point of view PCI-Express isn’t winning any battles over AGP8X just yet, but both ATI and NVIDIA have been aggressively moving forward with introducing graphic cards using the interface. Just a few weeks ago NVIDIA introduced the world’s first PCI-Express chipset for the AMD Athlon-64 platform; the nForce4. Just a few days ago ATI has followed suit and has also introduced a PCI-Express chipset for AMD’s Athlon-64, the EXPRESS 200 series. With that introduction it is clear that, like NVIDIA, they’re set on replacing AGP quickly. We will however have to wait for the next generation of, native PCI-Express, graphic cards to see significant improvements over AGP.
The PCI-Express x16 slot as featured on the XPRESS 200P MSI motherboard.
One of the key features of NVIDIA’s PCI-Express solution was its ability to run two of their 6600 or 6800 series graphic cards in SLI, effectively doubling performance, with the nForce4 SLI chipset. With that feature NVIDIA has clearly paved the road for the performance conscious gamer or enthusiast; with SLI even the fastest AGP graphic cards are slow by comparison. But in reality that chipset is nothing but a mention in the press release and a few preliminary benchmarks published left and right thus far. It is however on top of the list of every gamer or enthusiast and should be released before the holiday season, which will no doubt mean that sales will be ramping up quickly when it hits the retail shelves.
The memory slots, RX480 chipset with heatsink and the socket-939 for AMD processors.
Hot on the heels of NVIDIA’s Nforce4 chipset ATI now introduces its Athlon-64 chipset, dubbed the XPRESS 200, also bringing PCI-Express to the AMD Athlon-64 platform. This is actually a first for ATI, as although they’ve produced entry level Pentium 4 chipsets before, this is their first Athlon-64 chipset, clearly targeted at a different audience. As mentioned. ATI has launched the XPRESS 200 series chipset, which comprises of a discrete chipset, the 200P and the 200G, which is an integrated chipset with onboard graphics. The XPRESS 200P has the same feature set as the 200G, it just has to make due without the X300 class of graphic card that is integrated in the 200G chipset.
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